NOMP-group – New Organisation and Management Practices

Skilled migrants and their career success, a study of individual, organizational and institutional factors

This research project identifies the main individual, organizational, and structural factors for career success of migrants and provides us with an overarching picture.






Main financing

Collaboration partners

Project manager at MDU

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Description of the project

Migration is undoubtedly changing our world. About 250 million individuals live and work in countries other than their own and the number is increasing (UN data). Political and economic upheavals, international treaties (e.g. European Union that allows international mobility across borders), and globalization and neo-liberalism have increased the influx of migrants. On the other hand, the aging population, decreasing birth rates and the shortage of skillful workforce have made some countries to promote international mobility.Although Sweden is not defined as an immigrant country like Canada or US, many people have settled in Sweden as refugees or due to family ties, study and international labor migration. Sweden is the final destination of a significant number of newcomers (around 165000 in 2015 according to Migrationsverket). 17% of citizens are foreign-born, according to Statistics Sweden. Academics, business managers, and policymakers affirm that mobile skilled migrants are valuable mobile resources and by exploiting their talent the competitive advantage of the host country would improve drastically (Zikic 2015; Howe-Walsh & Schyns 2010). However, migrants’ unemployment rate is higher than their local counterparts rate (4.8% among those born in Sweden vs. 14.9% among foreign-born and the unemployment is predicted to increase in the coming years, according to Arbetsförmedlingen). The more migrants are skilled and qualified, the less likely they are to find employment relative to native citizens (Dietz et al. 2015). Increasing unemployment and pressure on welfare system may lead to negative attitudes and resistance to migration. Such effects in long-term result in conditions reinforcing vulnerability among migrant workers and increasing discrimination.

This research project identifies the main individual, organizational, and structural factors for career success of migrants and provides us with an overarching picture. Apart from the research, identifying contributing factors to career success is also of pivotal interest to career counselors and business managers as well as to migrant workers. All these stakeholders share an interest in such factors in order to promote one’s own career or those of clients or employees. The broad picture can assist us in developing effective initiatives for incorporating skilled migrants as an important source of competitive advantage into Sweden and offering them and their family a better life quality.


The surge in immigration is a current phenomenon across Europe and many of the migrants are educated and highly skilled and have the ability to integrate successfully into the host society (Toker et al. 2016). Following the global trend, in Sweden state policies intend to control the migration flow towards “more selective policies where states try to attract high-skilled migrants rather than migrants with fewer qualifications” (Emilsson et al. 2014). In this research project, we want to contribute to the research on labor migration management while giving voice to the high-skilled migrants. The change of policies in 2008 delegates the power regarding migrant labor selection and recruitment to the employer. This change, at the same time, puts the responsibility of adjustment and productivity of migrants on the shoulders of employers. Therefore, one emphasized area of scientific scrutiny in this research would be investigating the role of employers and organizational processes and programs in the career success of skilled migrants.

Traditionally, the success of individuals during an international mobility has been studied through “the prism of international adjustment” without considering career theory and institutional variables sufficiently (Cerdin & Le Pargneux 2014). In order to cover these gaps, career success of skilled migrants is the centerpiece of this research. We attempt to advance our understanding of how skilled migrants achieve career success in the new society and what are the crucial determinants that promote or impede the career success. The organization is the place that supply side of the labor market (skilled migrants with motivation and career expectations) meet the demand side of the labor market (career opportunities provided by the organizations) while institutional support and barriers affect the interaction of the skilled migrant and the organization. Therefore, as well as considering individual and institutional determinants, in this research project we focus on the organizational level determinants. Organizational strategies, processes, and practices regarding adjustment, integration and diversity management and interaction of organizational factors with the individual and institutional determinants would be highlighted in this research.


The objective of this project is first to identify the main institutional, organizational and individual determinants of career success of skilled migrants. Secondly, with respect to the multi-level nature of the determinants, the aim is to study the interaction of determinants and the mechanisms of effects; and, to determine the proper configurations leading to the career success.

In order to operationalize the aim, this project will seek to answer the following research questions (RQs):

(RQ1) What are the main determinants of career success of skilled migrants at the individual, organizational and institutional level? What are the differences in employer’s, migrant’s, and authority’s perceptions regarding the main determinants?

(RQ2) How the identified determinants perceived to affect the career trajectory and the career success by skilled migrants, managers and authorities?

(RQ3) What are common organizational strategies, processes, and practices designed to promote career success of skilled migrants? To what extent do these organizational strategies, processes, and practices provide equal employment opportunities and lead to a successful career?

(RQ4) Which configurations are most effective in safeguarding equal opportunity in career success? What are the best practices in promoting career success of skilled migrants (single-level, bi-level and multi-level)?


  • Surveying HR managers in Swedish Organization
  • Surveying migrants in Swedish labor market
  • Comparing their view points

This research relates to the following sustainable development goals